I read something on social media the other day and it said, “Surround yourself with people who make you happy.”
Although I can appreciate the sentiment and heart of the statement, I actually found myself slightly grieved. When did we become a culture that lives to make ourselves happy? Maybe this is always the way it has been. I don’t think we should live to make ourselves sad but, is being happy really the best we can do? As believers, I think we can do far better.
Years ago, when I was attending a girls club at my church called GEMS, there was a song we would sing about encouraging one another and building each other up. The song was based off of 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
He admonishes the people to live in the light of Christ and not to live in the darkness.
Paul writes this verse in the context of preparing for the day when Jesus will return. He admonishes the people to live in the light of Christ and not to live in the darkness. But what does it really mean to live in the light?
When you think about a small candle in a dark room, it can be considered a source of comfort. It is a symbol of hope and a beacon found for rejoicing. Sure, it makes me feel happy but, the candle isn’t there only for my happiness. The candle is there to bring light to a dark place, direction where there is no direction and hope when all things feel lost. I would much rather surround myself with people who help me to shine brighter. People who challenge me to step out of darkness and live in light. Sometimes this actually means experiencing hurt.
We need dynamic empaths, strong believers of grace and wise kingdom builders.
Of course, I am not saying you should intentionally put yourselves into situations where you will be susceptible to harm. Please, if you have the foresight to know that you could get hurt, do not bring yourself willingly into that situation for the sake of finding the light on the other side! But, I am saying that people are people and sometimes we get hurt or things happen we don’t expect and pain is ushered in. In those moments, we need so much more than just happy people by our side. We need dynamic empaths, strong believers of grace and wise kingdom builders.
Having people walk alongside you as you get soaking wet in the rain or shift and squirm in an uncomfortable and limiting shell is so much more valuable than people who will just make you happy.
Life is not all rainbows and butterflies. More often it is about the storm and life in a cocoon – it is about the transformation. Having people walk alongside you as you get soaking wet in the rain or shift and squirm in an uncomfortable and limiting shell is so much more valuable than people who will just make you happy.
Will one experience happiness? Yes! Definitely! Please smile, be grateful, be happy! But don’t settle for just happiness in your friendships. Use your words to encourage and challenge others. Initiate relationship in a way that won’t allow people to sit back and just let life happen. We are called to love and love means never letting someone stay the same. Let us look to Jesus. He indeed loves us as we are BUT He also calls us to live more and more as a reflection of Him.
If my life is not continually being shaped to look more like the life of Jesus, then maybe I have not surrounded myself with the right kind of people who help challenge me to weather the storm.
James 1:22-25 suggests that we need to partner our faith and belief in Jesus with action. Our faith saves us, our actions sanctify us and together they transform us into the likeness of Jesus. We know that Jesus was without sin and that He died to take ours away. So, why should I ever think that Jesus loves me as I am while at the same time believing that He wants me to stay in my own brokenness? If that is the case what was the point of the cross? Why the empty grave? If my life is not continually being shaped to look more like the life of Jesus, then maybe I have not surrounded myself with the right kind of people who help challenge me to weather the storm.
Jesus did not come to bring me happiness, He came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.
Jesus looks at us and sees us worthy of saving, so that is what He did. But, even to the woman caught in adultery He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). I will never be perfect because I never have been perfect. But, believing that I should simply, “surround myself with people who make me happy,” can lull me into thinking that I don’t need to change to look more like Christ. Jesus did not come to bring me happiness, He came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.
We are called, as believers, to surround ourselves with a great cloud of witnesses…
Can you see how our lives are called to be so much greater than just finding happiness? We are called to partner with Jesus in bringing heaven to earth. We are called, as believers, to surround ourselves with a great cloud of witnesses: Those who are ready and willing to face life’s perils, having confidence together that light is greater than darkness and that Jesus truly is the answer to all of life’s questions.
Jesus is it.
So, who do I want to be surrounded by? Not people who just make me happy, but people who are willing to be a beautiful part of the sanctifying process Jesus calls me to live out on this side of heaven.
Want to be surrounded by people who will encourage and challenge you to be more like Jesus?
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